Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bay State Supremes Nix Depression, ADHD Defense In Giving Lawyer Bar Boot For Playing Fast & Loose With Clients' Lawsuit Settlement Proceeds, Keeping Crappy Trust Account Records

In Salem, Massachusetts, The Salem News reports:
  • William P. Corbett Jr., who practiced in Salem, was disbarred last month for misappropriating client funds, faulty record-keeping, violating a temporary suspension order, and failing to cooperate with and misleading state bar officials.
    Corbett had engaged in misconduct involving two clients, according to an 11-page ruling written by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Margot Botsford the day before she retired.

    One was a man named Douglas Nystedt, who had hired Corbett after discovering that his estranged brother Evan had died and that his death had been kept hidden from other family members, purportedly by lawyer Earl Munroe, who was later suspended for his handling of the estate.

    Corbett eventually reached a settlement of part of the case for $50,000, according to Botsford’s ruling. Corbett asked his client if he could borrow money from that settlement — funds, it turns out, he used to partially reimburse another client.

    Corbett was supposed to give the client the remaining funds, $15,000, with a promise to repay the rest of the money, more than $18,000, at a future date.

    He paid the client just $7,500, later telling the Board of Bar Overseers that he had used the rest of the money to buy Christmas gifts.

    After the investigation began, Corbett repaid another $7,500. He told bar officials that he believes he was entitled to keep the rest after he was fired by Douglas Nystedt.

    Another client, Connie Siegel-Dennis, had hired Corbett to seek damages for an auto accident in which she was injured.

    She received part of a $500,000 settlement in 2011, with the balance going to cover fees and future expenses for other lawsuits filed in the case. But within months, nearly all of the expense funds had been spent, Botsford wrote, on other matters, transferring some of the money to his firm’s operating account.

    Another portion of the settlement, $50,000, was sent to Corbett in August 2012. However, he never informed his client, and began spending from that account.

    During a period when Corbett was administratively suspended from practicing law in 2013, he failed to tell Siegel-Dennis, Botsford found. She learned of the situation when she went to a court hearing and he failed to appear.

    In mitigation, Corbett argued, he was suffering from depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, calling forensic psychiatrist Dr. Martin Kelly to testify on his behalf at disciplinary proceedings.

    But board members, and later Botsford, did not find a causal connection between Corbett’s conditions and his conduct, which, members concluded, was “intentional and dishonest.”
Source: Two North Shore lawyers disbarred.
(1) In Massachusetts, the Clients' Security Fund of the state Supreme Judicial Court consists of money taken from a portion of the annual fees paid by each member of the bar, which is then managed and distributed to members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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